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Advance train tickets for Vienna/Budapest?

We're traveling to Prague, Vienna and Budapest in September in that order. After visiting Budapest, we're flying home from Vienna, so we will need round trip train tickets. Is this something we can take care of when we arrive in Vienna, or are these tickets best purchased in advance?

Posted by
10888 posts

Advance tickets might save you as much as $20 each way, but you loose all flexibility of travel. You can purchase "advance" tickets on line the night before though....

Posted by
5284 posts

Budapest>Vienna may not "sell out" but we saw a weekend train where the reserved seats sold out and people were standing in the aisle for a long trip. So we always try for reservations.

Posted by
107 posts

Thanks. We will be traveling back from Budapest to Vienna on a Wednesday. We were thinking of just buying the tickets in a station a few days in advance - on the same day the we buy tickets for a day trip to Melk and are in a train station anyway. Does this make sense?

Posted by
10888 posts

You are doing a day trip to Melk from Budapest?? Then on another day taking the train to Vienna? Okay, whatever. You can purchase the tickets on line while in Budapest (or Vienna) and get better rates; even the night before.

Posted by
10888 posts

I just logged onto the Hungarian rail site and, on line a ticket from Budapest to Vienna on a train tomorrow is 13 euro. No need to book in advance, just do it on line. Of course a ticket from Vienna to Budapest is probably a bit more expensive.

Posted by
1280 posts

I always spend the extra €3 for a seat reservation. I don't like to walk with my luggage through the train to find a spare seat. Additionally I can choose the type of seat; I prefer to sit at a table in the RailJets.

When you search for a train connection using OeBB's website you get a little warning if a train is expected to be heavily booked.

The "Sparschiene" bargain tickets are bound to a specific train; there are no return tickets, you just buy two separate tickets.

Posted by
16764 posts

You can also get in advance a Central Europe Triangle Pass which works for the specific route you've described, on the most direct trains, for $141 per person in 2nd class. Additional reservations are not required and you're not locked into a specific departure, although the one-month travel window is pre-validated at purchase.

Posted by
107 posts

Great info, thanks much. Just to clarify, we're in Vienna a few days and that's when we're doing the day trip to Melk. I figure we can just buy that in Vienna based on which day has nice weather. Then we visit Budapest but fly home from Vienna (really bad Budapest-Phoenix flight connections that are an insane amount of hours). We'll have our last day of vacation with an afternoon and evening in Vienna, so it's all good.

Posted by
10888 posts

Laura, let me see if i understand this correctly. A person could buy a round trip ticket from Vienna to Budapest for $30 to $43 (including seat reservation) and then the ticket to Melk I cant imagine would be more than anouther $30 round trip. Or they can purchase your pass for $141? http://elvira.mav-start.hu/elvira.dll/uf?language=2&i=BUDAPEST*&e=Vienna+%5BWIEN*%5D&d=2019.07.01.&mikor=-1&u=1156&go=

I did discover that with the Hungarian website to get the good fares you have to book at least 24 hours in advance.....

Posted by
16764 posts

James, I don't believe they're traveling roundtrip Vienna-Budapest. I read it as a circular/triangular trip, Vienna-Prague-Budapest-Vienna, but if that's not the case, then that pass doesn't work. She also asked about flexible or last-minute options, and the pass compares well versus full-fare tickets for closer to $195.

Posted by
4073 posts

Laura - who in the world buys full fare tickets? No one. Even bought on the day of travel, the tickets for the route you describe wouldn’t come to your figure. Passes never save money. Passes are a luxury for people who think buying train tickets is hard (it’s not!).

Posted by
10888 posts

Okay the headder says, Prague, Vienna, Budapest and we now know that she is going back to Vienna and making a side trip to Melk.
With all that said, My guess (I have no idea what the Prague to Vienna leg is but I am guessing under $50) for buy-it-on-line-the-night-before cost for all the legs combined is something less than $100 per person.....

Just a suggestion. For a little more money you will get more usable time if you fly from Prague to Budapest (about $100 on Czech Air), then train to Vienna and just stay there (with a day trip to Melk).

Posted by
4073 posts

Prague to Vienna is 15 Euro on RegioJet bought on day of travel....

Posted by
16764 posts

That's a good reminder that the private RegioJet.com train departures can be as cheap as €15. Not always, of course, as that rate can sell out, and whole trains can also sell out a few days before departure on the more popular times, such as 9:20 this Friday.

You can see competing railway services reflected DB train schedules, though not for sale there. Departures operated by OBB's RailJet are abbreviated RJ while relative newcomer RegioJet is listed as an IC train, and then expanding to see details will name the train operator. You do have options, with both brands providing equally fast, direct service at different times of day, and both rewarding advance booking.

Regular, not discounted, 2nd-class fares on the national railway's fastest trains are Vienna-Prague €67.60 ($77) by OBB's RailJet, Prague-Budapest 1633 ck (about $73), and Budapest-Vienna €40.20 ($46) also by OBB's RailJet, or as I said earlier $195 total.

Posted by
4073 posts

Laura - smart travelers buy tickets in advance. Isn’t this website about helping a traveler save money?

Who buys their tickets on the day of travel?

Why not encourage folks to buy their tickets in advance as savvy travelers do and then advertise that math instead? Why default to the most expensive option?

Posted by
16764 posts

Emily, I'm not encouraging people to buy full-fare tickets. I'm informing them of the price of full-fare tickets, which usually helps encourage them to buy advance-discount tickets, instead. Irene asked for information on both options.

For this route, the pass I mentioned is not widely advertised (since it's not a Eurail-brand product), so I thought she should know about it. It's not the cheapest possibility, but is cheaper than full-fare tickets on the national railways.

It's great that RegioJet has cheaper tickets available even on short notice. I admit that it's not always top of mind for me. And although another reply above (and my standard reply) is that most Austrian and Czech trains can't sell out, RegioJet can, so it does pay to be aware of the differences.

Posted by
107 posts

Thanks, I'm the OP and now I'm really confused!!! Here's the overall trip: we already have our plane tickets. Flying to Prague and staying 5 nights, taking shuttle to Cesky-Krumlov and staying 2 nights, then taking shuttle to Vienna and staying 3-4 nights, and one of those days will be day trip to Melk. Then planning 5-6 nights in Budapest and need to take train back to Vienna (one night) before our morning flight home. An aside, we have overlapping hotel reservations one night in both Vienna and Budapest and will cancel one night, depending on where we decide to spend more time. We love Vienna and have been there twice and Budapest is new to us. But overall - we just need a RT train Vienna -Budapest and then back to Vienna. So I'm just trying to sort out the best approach to buying that set of train tickets. I hope this helps.

Posted by
10888 posts

Easy, buy the Vienna to Budapest ticket a night or two prior on the OBB site. Buy the Budapest to Vienna ticket a night or two prior on the MAV site. Ignore the rest of the chatter.

Posted by
4073 posts

Buy the tickets online NOW from Vienna to Budapest following the instructions in the link I have above. If you wait, then you’ll miss the cheap fares. Read the link for the Budapest to Vienna travel I have provided above. The instructions on the Man in Seat 61 site are clear. Bottom line - buy your tickets online.

Posted by
10888 posts

Okay, Emily knows more about OBB than I do. But the cheap fares on the MAV site are there 24 hours in advance. Guess the Hungarisns are easier to get along with 😊 To be fair, there are probably limits on the quantity of cheap tickets. I went to the MAV website last night and checked the following 3 days and there were discount tickets available. 13 and 19 euro.